Tungareshwar ashram: State seeks extension for demolition till after Ganpati, elections
The Maharashtra government sought two more months to execute the Supreme Court’s (SC) order to demolish an illegal ashram inside Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The state filed an application before the SC on Wednesday seeking time till November 7, which is 15 days after the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election results, to demolish the ashram.
HT has a copy of the application that lists out reasons why the state wants to delay the demolition, including lack of enough security personnel during Ganeshotsav and elections. Another reason was the “unprecedented situation of unusually severe floods” in various districts, including Palghar, where the illegal Balayogi Shree Sadanand Maharaj Ashram is located with approach roads to the ashram damaged due to landslides after heavy rains. “We have requested the court to extend the deadline as we expect by then the results for the Assembly elections will be out,” said Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (Mantralaya). “SC’s response to our application will bring further clarity on this matter,” he added.
This is the second time that the state has requested an extension for demolishing the ashram. The SC, while hearing an interim application filed by Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust, passed an order on May 7 directing the demolition of the ashram within eight weeks — before July 22. However, on July 22 the state requested for more time and the SC bench of justice Arun Mishra and justice Deepak Gupta extended the deadline to August 31. The next hearing in the matter is on September 2.
“Reasons from the government are only an attempt to delay the demolition so that votes are guaranteed,” said Goenka.
HT also has a copy of the minutes of the meeting in this matter held by the state chief secretary earlier this month that reads “demolition and reclamation action would require Rs1.89 crore”. The funds have been sanctioned by the forest department.